Assassination Game (2011)
Directed by Ernie Barbarash
With the hype that Jean Claude Van Damme has received with being cast as a villain in The Expendables 2, one wondered why it took so long for JCVD to make the decision to join the all star cast. Was it because he didn't want to do action porn? Was he so adamant that the movie be "character action" as he always points out? Did he NOT want to play the villain?
Well I don't think the villain is the problem. Because after watching Assassination Games (formerly Weapon) there is a bit of grey in his character of Vincent. Van Damme plays an elite assassin who seems to be a cold blooded, ruthless uncaring SOB. But with any other JCVD flick, his character evolves and picks the good guy side. This side is includes ultimate good guy played by Scott Adkins as Flint and without a doubt adds the SUPER POW! to JCVD's POW. Now starring in his 3rd Van Damme flick, he kicks ass and is rightly in The Expendables 2 as well.
Assassination Games is a solid Van Damme flick that blends in a bit of The Professional with that Stallone/Banderas clunker Assassins. Think of Van Damme as Leon teamed up with Adkins playing the stereotypical Statham character. It's an awesome team up, one where the world's best assassins face off then in typical movie form team up to kill the Big Bad.
Van Damme is respectively solid and the action scenes are executed with precision. Without carrying the entire movie on his shoulders, Van Damme seems to play well with others adding a buddy cop like feel to the flick. Sure the bad guy, subplots and shoot em ups could have been better but Assassination Games plays out like a stealthy Max Payne FPS that makes me proud to be a Van Damme fan.
Brazil (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a contract killer, willing to take any job if the price is right. Flint (Scott Adkins) left the assassin game when a ruthless drug dealer’s brutal attack left his wife in a coma. When a contract is put out on the same coldblooded drug dealer, both Brazil and Flint want him dead – one for the money, the other for revenge. With crooked Interpol agents and vicious members of the criminal underworld hot on their trail, these two assassins reluctantly join forces to quickly take out their target before they themselves are terminated.
After watching a bit of Van Damme's reality show, I saw a few scenes of this film being shot. What you'll notice first is that with every Van Damme flick, he still strives to make the best quality action movie in the business. Bulgaria is the setting of choice and Van Damme's kids get juicy parts. Kris Van Varenberg shows up playing a corrupt Interpol agent while Bianca Van Varenberg plays a comatose wife of Flint.
AG establishes itself with a stealthy opening as Van Damme performs a hit. Juxtaposed is Flint, a now retired assassin who cares for his wife who brutally attacked by what I believe is an evil weapons dealer Polo. Soon Polo has a price on his head and both JCVD and Adkins get in each other's way. There's a subplot involving Flint's former partner and Van Damme meets a hooker who tries to break the stone cold Vincent. None of this is oddly necessary, but it wasn't boring either.
Vincent is a prototypical assassin as we find out. An apartment that's not as it seems, he plays the violin, gets paid only in diamonds and has a pet turtle. We don't get a clear idea why Vincent is like this but I liked the mystery. Director Ernie Barbarash could have put in flashbacks, thank the action gods he didn't. Flint does get a flashback. Seems Polo gangraped his wife and put her in a coma?!? (hmm I have no idea how that could have happeped). Now he wants bloody revenge and Polo's bollocks.
The action scenes are actually super gory. Lots of sliced throats and ears. Gun shots galore are littered throughout AG. Sliced up bodies, gun shot riddled corpses and Adkins provides the spinkicks and out of nowhere punches. Also littered are lots of conversations with double talk, schemes and backstabbing. As we headed to the final confrontation, I was expecting a level of shit just hit the fan but what I got was more straightforward, budget constrained vengeance.
Sure it's another lone hitman movie, the generic action flicks that Jason Statham and his Transporter/Crank/The Mechanic/Killer Elite fold of movies we all love. But this one has Van Damme and it has Adkins and somehow it held my interest for the entire duration. Sure the bad guy and his goons were just assassination fodder, the killing of innocents for motivation and the quick witted banter between the 2 stars was a bit funny. But I like to think of this as a webisode of The Expendables 2. It's just a taste of what TWO FUCKIN HUGE ACTION STARS together can get done.
Now cue this motherfuckin song.
Some Eastern European hooker boobies
Like I said, some sliced throats, ear decaps and gunshots galore
High tech wizardry helps kick ass
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
Assassination Games is now out on DVD, on Video in Demand and is also on iTunes. The DVD includes Deleted Scenes and commentary with Van Damme and Adkins. Scott Adkins fans are like early JCVD fans. Sometimes you HAVE to watch everything he's in because it's just fuckin mandatory. Van Damme fans, you won't be disappointed. Assassination Games is better than his previous action efforts.
Check out the trailer.